What pop culture screams 1997 to you?

Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d…

Chumbawamba on the unlikely, anarchic legacy of “Tubthumping,” 20 years later

Chumbawamba’s ”Tubthumping” has had a surprisingly enduring life since it first emerged in 1997, flooding the airwaves with its “I get knocked down, but I get up again” sing-along refrain. It became the theme song of the FIFA World Cup ’98 video game. In 2003, it was remixed (in a more somber, minor key) by The…

The best movies of 1997

Hindsight is 20/20. Does it get sharper when the distance between then and now is 20 years? The A.V. Club wasn’t putting together best-of lists in 1997, so it’s impossible to know how this retroactive ranking of the year’s movies might compare with one compiled by the staff at the time—especially since that staff has…

Mortal Kombat’s 1997 was the opposite of a flawless victory

It’s not hard to see why Mortal Kombat turned into one of the biggest pop-culture phenomena of the ’90s. It wasn’t the first game with gratuitous gore, but none of its bloody predecessors had the marketing dollars, strategic timing, or eye-catching panache of Midway’s infamous fighter. Landing one year after Street…

“The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” gave us a totally outrageous paradigm

Once in a great while, we are privileged to experience a television event so extraordinary, it becomes part of our shared heritage. And in receiving these gifts, by grace of our noble human character, we are given license to say, eh, they’re not so great, then begin nitpicking the shit out of them. Such is our…

1997 was the year Star Wars came back and never left

The Star Wars universe has evolved and expanded (and in the case of the Expanded Universe, contracted) considerably in the last two decades, a process that took root in the mid-’90s and entered hyperspace in 1997. On the occasion of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, the original trilogy of films set a long time ago in…

Did 1997 contain the worst two weeks in music history?

Sean O’Neal: In the topic of “Worst Music Year,” 1997 is a frequent contender. Some of this can be attributed to distaste for a single genre—boy bands and the Spice Girls, mostly, whose dominance was complete anathema to anyone who’d spend the earlier part of the decade convinced the alt-rock “revolution” was anything…

Punk-O-Rama captured—and killed—the ’90s pop-punk boom

In 1997, CD Warehouses proliferated across suburban strip malls, sterile repositories of cheap, hard-plastic media where Joe Hedgetrimmer could methodically click-click-click through Eagles and Beatles greatest-hits albums in hope of making his 15-minute commutes easier to digest. It was an era of accessibility in…

Wu-Tang declared “Triumph” with one of the strangest and best videos ever made

Time has been kind to Wu-Tang Forever. The 1997 double album is sprawling and messy, the Wu’s nine-headed gauntlet of Staten Island talent holding together largely thanks to its shared fiscal interest in advancing the Wu-Tang brand. In hindsight, it’s the capstone of the collective’s golden age, and, in some ways, of…

A titanic, bittersweet symphony: 35 pop-culture windows into 1997

Two years after warring electronics companies competing to develop high-capacity CDs declared a truce, their compromise format, the DVD, first went on sale in the U.S. in March of 1997. (Twister, The Mask, GoodFellas, and The Road Warrior were among the first batch of titles.) DVDs didn’t hit major retail chains like…